The use of aesthetic procedures such as botox injections and fillers are steadily on the rise – but so too are complaints about them.
Campaign group Save Face received 2,083 complaints about botched cosmetic procedures in 2020, a ten-fold increase since 2016 when there were just 217.
Doctors have revealed that they are carrying out almost 300 times the number of corrective procedures they did in 2013, as rising numbers of young people book treatments from unscrupulous providers.
Choosing clinics with trained medical professionals who follow the correct safety protocols and give advice on the appropriateness of the procedure are the gold standard, but they can necessitate several appointments and may appear costly.
Danielle Pritchett, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at Shoosmiths’ Thames Valley office, is concerned that people conscious of cost may be tempted to go for clinics offering cheaper options where staff have not had the appropriate training.
At Shoosmiths we have extensive experience representing people who, for understandable reasons, have chosen the cheaper options and been forced to take legal action for compensation to pay for remedial treatment.
Lack of adequate training
Despite the use of needles and the potential for serious complications, an aesthetic practitioner does not need any mandatory qualifications, meaning anyone can go on a basic training course and then be allowed to perform the treatments.
During lockdown, there was an increase in cosmetic training academies offering to teach these procedures online for as little as £150, a BBC investigation found.
According to Save Face there has also been an increase in people doing DIY procedures at home, often buying unlicensed and unregulated filler and pens over the internet.
People have been encouraged by social media posts and influencers who have filmed themselves using what they call hyaluron or hyaluronic pens. These are large self-injecting pens designed to deliver fillers to your skin at home, but it is unclear what is inside. This is completely unregulated and it means the fillers can be administered and used by anyone of any age.
What can go wrong
First, people may simply not like the cosmetic results.
But there are more serious consequences. All procedures carry some risk, even when carried out correctly, such as allergic reactions, which can be minor but might cause pain and even hospitalisation.
When administered incorrectly, Save Face advise that these procedures can cause blindness, blood clots or necrosis, which is when the tissue dies.
In the US, there have been reports of women injecting silicone directly into their lips, which later require surgical removal, as well as counterfeit products bought on the internet claiming to be a legitimate brand but are actually adulterated.
Whilst most of what goes wrong is reversible, this can be costly and time consuming, and in some cases there can be long-term damage and psychological harm.
Worryingly, more than 41,000 procedures such as lip enhancement were carried out on people aged under 18 last year alone.
A private members bill in Parliament has tackled this and The Botulinum Toxin and Cosmetic Fillers (Children) Bill received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021. The bill makes it illegal for a cosmetic procedure to be performed on people under the age of 18 in England, except under the direction of a registered health professional.
From October 1, anyone doing so will face prosecution and there will be a requirement for businesses to verify a person's age before arranging appointments.
If you are over 18 and are not deterred by the above, find an approved, trained, practitioner. The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) has been established to assist members of the public who are considering non-surgical procedures with advice on safety and details of how to gain access the register of approved practitioners.
Shoosmiths’ Danielle Pritchett says:
"As more people take up these procedures, at clinics or at home, it is vital to take all necessary precautions to have a safe experience.
“So be aware - do proper research, check if staff are adequately trained and don't go for the cheapest option.
“You can find more information at the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) website.”